A £1.5 million support package has been unveiled to help English manufacturers enter or expand their presence in the nuclear sector.
The Fit For Nuclear (F4N) scheme, which was developed by the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre and is delivered in partnership with the Manufacturing Advisory Service, is offering grants of around £10,000 to companies based in England that want to meet industry standards and compete for work in civil nuclear.
Mike Tynan, chief executive of the Nuclear AMRC says smaller manufacturers have a vital role to play in civil nuclear, if they can meet the standards demanded by the industry's top tier.
More than 5000 SMEs are needed to supply goods and services to the UK's £60 billion civil nuclear new build programme and for ongoing decommissioning projects.
"To win work, UK companies need to make sure they have the ability to meet safety, quality and cost standards, and can demonstrate that their specialist capabilities can deliver value to clients," Tynan adds.
The Fit For Nuclear scheme has been designed to help manufacturers close any gaps in performance. The new funding will be used to drive business improvements in areas such as manufacturing process, factory layout, bid writing, training plans and strategy.
Manufacturers can also apply for F4N funding to support R&D projects to optimise production or develop new processes and products. They will also gain access to the Nuclear AMRC's world-leading workshop capabilities in machining, welding, metrology and design support.
To date, almost 200 business have already embarked on Fit For Nuclear and more than 75 per cent of these have recorded immediate tangible bottom-line benefits, explained Steven Barr, head of MAS.
Any English manufacturer employing ten or more people and with over £1.6 million sales can apply to the new funding call. Firms are urged to supply as soon as possible to secure a share of the funding.